Over the years, it has become increasingly evident that our legislators have ignored the issues most important to Utahns, as consistently measured in public opinion polls. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, special interests provided 92 percent of all the campaign donations that members of the 2018 Utah Legislature raised last year. According to the National Council of State Legislators, Utah is one of only six states in the country with no contributions spending limitations from the state parties, PACS, corporations or unions. It’s no wonder the laws coming out of this system do not reflect the interests of the average citizen.
This past session, my Senator, my supposed representative, co-sponsored bill HB169 to cut inspection fees for Clive Operations, EnergySolutions, a commercial radioactive waste facility located 75 miles west of Salt Lake City. They handle large quantities of depleted uranium and other products such as low level power plant waste, byproducts and equipment used in power plants and nuclear generation, radioactive waste from the Department of Energy and radioactively contaminated medical waste. Despite vocal opposition from concerned citizens, HB169 sailed through the House and the Senate, essentially along party lines and landed on the governor’s desk for an immediate signature. That’s $1.7 million a year that won’t be available to address tax payer concerns. Representatives and industry lobbyists believe this break is required so the company can maintain its competitive edge. Utah needs to support businesses that are good neighbors. Energy Solutions is being fined more than $50,000 by the Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control for repeated permit violations. Employees failed to apply a chemical coating intended to keep contaminated soil from becoming airborne. The damage done. And, while the bulk of low level waste is not highly radioactive, industry and medical sources may be quite radioactive.
What was not discussed in the debates over HB169 was the fact that Energy Solutions is the single biggest donor to sitting legislators campaigns, giving a combined 67,700 to 43 lawmakers; $6000 to the bill sponsor John Knotwell, R-Herriman, and $1000 to my Senator, Dan Hemmert, R-Orem.
Not only is it easier for politicians to get money from corporate polluters and special interests, its less likely for the general public to come across that data since Representative Brad Daw, R-Orem created an amendment to state election law eliminating the requirement for corporations to file campaign donation reports. So, now if you want to look up how much a company such as Pfizer Inc., Maverick, or Energy Solutions has contributed in total to all Utah State Legislators, you better have excel mastered, because that information is no longer available at the click of a link. Citizens looking for this information must dig through all 29 Senators and all 75 House Representatives disclosures. Why would our very own representatives create laws for it to be harder for us to access this information? This is just one example of many this past session alone, where private corporate money appears to have a corrupting influence on representative politics.
1364 Bills were requested by our elected representative during the 2018 State Legislative Session, 533 have been signed into law by our governor. How transparent was your representative? How informative was your representative? What bills were written in your name? What legislation truly represented your interests? Utahns have made it clear, our priorities are Healthcare, Air Quality, K-12 Education, reigning in State and Govnt Spending, Jobs and the Economy, Water supply and quality, Crime and Safety, reducing partisan politics, homelessness and poverty and respect for our environment.
I am running to challenge unfair corporate influence in the Utah House of Representatives. I am running to give the people of the 27th District a voice and to restore some balance in our government.